Teenagers, We KNOW You’re Not All That

teenagers

Dear Teenagers,

I want to ask you to forgive us. We’ve kind of been jerks lately. We’ve been attacking you for anything and everything. I mean, there was that whole Tide Pod eating challenge, so we had some ammo. But we attacked you, demeaned you, and told you your opinions don’t matter. We tried to make you think you weren’t old enough, educated enough, or smart enough to have a say in what happens in our society. Correction: YOUR society. We’ve been shaking our fingers at you and turning our backs in disgust. When you attempt to stand up for what you believe is right, we do whatever we can to discredit you.

teenagers
Lisa Snell photo

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I need to apologize. This isn’t your fault; we’re the ones who raised you. When we bash your generation we’re basically saying we’ve failed you. We flooded your world with social media. When you were young children we handed you electronics that link you directly to the world and threw you to wolves because it was easier on us if you were occupied. You were just kids, and we failed to protect you for what was to come. We gave you medals even when you didn’t earn them because we selfishly didn’t want you to experience failure. We feared punishing you when you deserved punishment because we had this strange need to be your friend. We basically told you that you can do whatever you want and there won’t be consequences, at least not from us. Not only did we fail to catch you in this free fall, we actually pushed you off the cliff. This isn’t your fault. Our fingers are pointed in the wrong direction.

It’s not you, dear teenagers, it’s us. But let’s not break up. Give us a second chance. We can do better, I promise.

In our heart we know you’re not all Tide Pod-eating, condom-snorting fools. Just like I hope you know we aren’t all angry, self-righteous jerks. We’ve been watching you change the world, and honestly, I think we’re a little intimidated, a little scared. We didn’t grow up like you did. We didn’t have instant access to anything except Super Mario Bros and Tetris, and if saving the princess or interlocking shapes makes us smarter than you, then we win—but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. But you, you have instant access to everything and that seems to be a double-edged sword: one side we’re using to stab you with and the other side we’re trying to protect you from. You have a responsibility that we can’t wrap our minds around. You have a voice that we didn’t have. We had to record things then plug them in to the TV and invite our friends over to watch. We had to write out our thoughts on actual paper and mail them somewhere in hopes to be heard. We had to actually watch shows when they aired and sit through commercials. We even took selfies!! Most of us probably have piles of unusable pictures because we had to take 10 of the same thing and then cross our fingers while we waited five days to have them developed. Maybe we’re just a little bitter. Would you give us some grace while we try to remember what it’s like to have one foot in childhood and the other in adulthood? Would you forgive us while we stumble through remembering what it’s like to want to be heard while our voices are changing? Would you extend a hand while we stumble over giving you mercy in your journey, the same mercy we so desperately needed in ours once upon a time (and often still do)?

teenagers

I want to applaud you. Thanks for standing up to us, because we need it. Your courage is commendable. We need to be humbled once in a while, and our pride seems to get in the way. We know most of you are doing some great things. There are bad seeds in every generation, including ours, but the good seeds in yours are blooming some amazing fruit, and I want you to know that we see it and most of us know that one day we will need that fruit. I hope that you will gently remind us that one day you will be our teachers, doctors, leaders, and more, and we would be wise to nourish your journey. Don’t let me scare you, but someday you’ll be us, and when that day comes, I want you to be kind—kinder than we’ve been to you. You probably don’t believe it now, but someday you too will become set in your ways, and when those flying cars whiz by you’ll scream about how you had to use a gas pedal back in your day. I hope you’ll remember that the kids driving those flying cars will be finding their way the same way you are finding yours now.

Teenagers – you’re not “all that.” You’re not all that we’ve been screaming in your faces or blasting in blog posts. You’re not some experiment gone wrong. You’re not fools.

You’re us and we’re you. I know, you just cringed, but it’s true. We may not be the same but we all face obstacles and struggles along the way. We all have to figure out our path and find our slot in life. We all screw up and stumble, we just do it differently. We all have a spark that wants to make a change. We’re standing where our grandparents once stood and one day you’ll stand where we stand. We were you and you’ll be us, and we’d all be better people if we figured out a way to understand each other, help each other, support each other, and work together to help each other grow. We’re counting on you. So go do big things. Change the world. Make us all better people. Prove us old people wrong.

Cheering you along,
The Old People

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This article originally appeared at candicecurry.com.

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Candice Curry
Candice Curry is a wife and mom of six precious children. She writes about her loving God, forgiveness, suicide, and autism at her blog CandiceCurry.com, and has been featured on the Today Show, Huffington Post, Yahoo, and the New York Daily News among other publications.